She Considers a Field - Day 15

My wife has always been fond of Proverbs 31:10-31. She reads it regularly, has most of it memorized, and really tries to apply the precepts of this example of an “ideal wife” in her own life. There have been many times where she has dwelt on a particular portion of this passage.

Lately she has been considering verse 16, and she wanted to get my opinion on how best to apply it in her life. I told her that I would study the passage and pass along what insights I am able, and I decided to share my thoughts here as well.

Proverbs 31
Lets look at the context of this verse, before we consider the meaning and application of a specific portion of it.

Proverbs 31, as we see in verse 31 was written by King Lemuel. Some attribute only the first 9 verses to King Lemuel, and say that 11-31 were written by Solomon, or Lemuel’s mother, or some unknown writer. Now this is the only reference we have to King Lemuel, and we are not exactly sure who he was, although some seem certain that he was a king of the North Arabian nation of Massa. Jewish legend even likes to identify Lemuel as Solomon, and thus his mother as Bathsheba.

Regardless of the true identity of the author of Proverbs 31:11-31 we can rest assured that this passage is important, true, inspired, and worthy of being included in the Bible.

A Wife of Noble Character
This entire passage forms an acrostic, with the first letter of each verse corresponding to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet - from a (alef) to t (tav). This is a very strong indication that this passage was meant to be memorized and used, much like school-children are taught the memory aid “my very educated mother just sent us nine pizzas” as a way of remembering the 8 planets (plus Pluto) - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

So it is very likely that this passage was originally used as A) a method for young men to remember the Godly traits a wife should have as they were looking for a woman to marry B) a method for young women to remember the Godly traits that they should aspire to as they prepared to be a Godly wife C) both. Let’s go with option C, as it gives us a great way of looking at this passage from the perspective of men and women.

A Value Beyond Rubies
To begin with, verse 1 tells us:
Who can find a wife of noble character?
For her value is far more than rubies. (NET)

This rhetorical question that implies not that the following woman is impossible to find, but that she is rare, like valuable rubies. You see, rubies are valuable because they are rare. If they were as plentiful as peanuts, then that is what they would be worth - peanuts.

No, from the man’s perspective this wife of noble character can be found, but she must be sought out, and with the assumption that most of the women a young man comes across are not in this class.

And from the woman’s perspective these verses do not describe how a woman is born, but how she lives her life. This is an ideal example to pattern behavior after and to aspire to be like this “wife of noble character.” A biblical ideal that women of all walks and backgrounds have the potential to work towards.

And coming back to the married men, this passage is a reminder of how to encourage our wives, but also a reminder praise our wives. In verse 28-29 we have the praise from this ideal woman’s husband, “Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all.” A sure reminder that it is our duty to speak of our wives in glowing terms, and to praise her in a ways that show that to us she surpasses all other women.

She Considers a Field
Verse 16 is the one that has been on my wife’s heart, as she has tried to determine how this verse is meant to apply to her:
“She considers a field and buys it;
from her own income she plants a vineyard.” (NET)

This basically is describing that this wife has saved up money she has earned from her enterprising endeavors. Verses 13, 17, 18, 19, 22, and particularly 24 tells us that this woman takes in raw cloth materials and makes good quality linen garments and sashes. She has saved up money from these things that she is constantly working on, and has invested it in something that will bring present and future benefits to herself, her husband, and her children.

For she not only buys a piece of land, a precious commodity in Israel that was rarely sold outside of ones own family, but she plants a vineyard to produce grapes that her family will be able to eat, enjoy, and profit from; a sound investment.

This word considers in the original Hebrew (zamam) is frequently translated in scripture as purposed or plotted in the sense of plotting some evil action. Now that is certainly not to say that buying this field was an evil action, but rather, I think, that it was carefully planned, strategized, and acted upon shrewdly. In a way that shows great attention to detail.

This was a deliberate and purposed investment.

Idleness and Productiveness
An overall theme that appears to be present in this passage is that this wife is not idle. She is not a busybody or gossiper, but she looks with great attention to her household and to her family and husband. She is dedicated foremost to her glorious role as a wife and mother in a ways that benefit her family.

It is hard to say if certain portions of this passage are prescriptive or descriptive. It is question that we should often ask ourselves about Biblical passages. We certainly can see that the passage in 2 Samuel 11 about the story of David in Bathsheba is descriptive. We are definitely NOT supposed to see this as being actions that we are supposed to emulate, because the Bible says adultery and murder are wrong it is an easy distinction to make.

Regardless of the specifics of this passage, there are some precepts that can be drawn out of it by each of us. Regarding verse 16, I think that the ultimate meaning everyone should get, is that the wife purposed to be prudent and invest in her families future. In her case it meant literally saving money out of her work to benefit her family. She did not work hard making clothes and save up money to buy herself fancy jewelry, or other luxuries for herself, she did it so she could invest in her family.

Investing in the Future
So the example here is one that might mean that there are times where a wife seeking to emulate this example does industriously desire to pursue some financially paying work on the side in order to invest it in her family, or it might mean that others should invest their time in their families future, or their prayers.

Certainly the greatest investment in the future a mother can make is in nurturing and attending to her children’s growth and helping the father in setting good examples of Godliness and setting down a firm spiritual foundation in their lives.

And for a wife that same investment can be made for her families future, be it through one thing or another, the mindset goes beyond just addressing the immediate and being mindful of the future.

And husbands, love your wives. As verse 28 tells us, praise your wife. Let her know that she is more valuable than rubies, that she surpasses all other women. And teach your children to “rise up and call her blessed.” Set a good example for your children, and teach them to bless and praise their mother.

Investing in your family will pay off in ways that we cannot begin to understand, yet.

Day 15
Pray that I would continue to improve in health.

Pray that I would be able to make some good connections and friendships at the BridgePoint Men’s retreat this weekend.

Pray that I would closely follow the Lord’s leading at SONlight.

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